2 Books That Might Make You Want To Study Abroad…
…These books definitely did a number on my heart. I'm here to talk about two books that I've been meaning to read, but only recently had the chance to binge them within less than three days altogether.
First is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The story revolves around Anna Oliphant, a girl from Atlanta, Georgia, who is tossed across the ocean to complete her senior year in France. Of all places and of all times, her father forces her to finish her secondary schooling in a place so unfamiliar to her. Luckily, she finds friends: Mer, Josh, Rashmi, and Étienne, who most people endearingly call St. Clair. The whole experience of studying abroad is a whirlwind for Anna, from the cinemas to the crêperies. She even finds herself swirling into a bit of a romance with a forbidden friend, St. Clair. Through it all, Anna is a positive force that shines through the novel.
That book will make you fall for love, wholeheartedly. I'm a hard lover, but I was under the spell of love and romance several times, just as Anna is under St. Clair's spell. At times, I shied away at some of the plot lines, like St. Clair hanging with his original girlfriend, Ellie. While I found it to be an interesting part of the novel, I didn't really enjoy that St. Clair was emotionally cheating on his girlfriend while still trying to maintain the long-term relationship he had. However, I liked that St. Clair wanted to include Anna (to the point that they were together by their lonesome most of the time) but he wasn't forced to help her out. It would be helpful if someone like St. Clair was around for every person coming to a new school.
Overall, this book is perfect to read as a seventeen-year-old. Not only do I understand their intentions—because who wouldn't want to explore a whole new place with a wonderful friend group—but it seems more appropriate to read as an older teenager. I've always wanted to read this book, but I've only gotten the chance to read it now. Another possible combination for maximum ~feels~ would be if I read it early on in my adolescence and again now. I feel like if I read it as a thirteen or fourteen-year-old, I would've been head over heels for St. Clair, but I know that he is flawed just as any other character. Even though it was published almost ten years ago, Anna and The French Kiss stays swoon-worthy for the ages.
The second book is Again, but Better by Christine Riccio, a "booktuber." Protagonist Shane is a homebody as she navigates through college as a pre-med major, heading home every weekend sad and unhappy. She has zero friends, joined zero activities, and above all, she's made zero progress with any relationships. Seeing the study abroad program as a way to start fresh again, the second semester of her junior year is spent in London, with people she doesn't know and experiences yet to come. She meets friends like Babe, Sahra, Atticus and Pilot. Without hesitation, Pilot and Shane are intertwined and involved on the crush level, Pilot (conveniently? I don't know) leaving out the fact that he has a girlfriend back home. They travel together all over the place, and by the end of the semester, they all return home and nothing brews from whatever feelings Pilot and Shane harbored for each other.
This is when the timeline shifts, and weirdly, shifts back. It gets to 2017, Shane is unhappy with her life. She interviews for residency positions at NYU and other places, and Pilot works at a golf company. She meets with Pilot to confess her feelings and by the works of a red-headed spirit that recurs throughout the novel, they time-travel back to their time studying abroad. They have the chance to right their wrongs.
Again, but Better is a fairly good book, though it is a little reminiscent of the books everyone hates on Wattpad because they're cringey. It is written well, but the characters got on my nerves at times. I think Riccio could have dug deeper into the world and character building. All the characters seemed a little flat and static, even through the struggle with Shane's parents.
However, I enjoyed the study abroad element. It was awesome to read of the adventures the "Flat Three" group had, in both the first and second times around. It sounds really fun to explore Paris, Rome, England, and other places too. It inspired me to want to study abroad if I get the chance!
I really enjoyed these books, and they actually had some similarities now that I notice. Minus the study abroad element, the protagonists were in a similar situation: Anna and Shane were both studying abroad, with a crush on an unavailable boy who crushed on them back. (Again, I don't really support the whole "cheating" trope, especially emotional cheating which is the worst, but that's just how the story goes sometimes.) They also found home wherever they landed. I hope that if you read these books, you feel a sprinkle of wanderlust over your body, wanting to be in a far, far place away from where you are now.
(I could only attach one book link to the post, so feel free to check out Again, but Better in the recommended books tab!)